|Publication number||US7556594 B2|
|Application number||US 11/490,963|
|Publication date||Jul 7, 2009|
|Filing date||Jul 21, 2006|
|Priority date||Jan 4, 2005|
|Also published as||US20070027480|
|Publication number||11490963, 490963, US 7556594 B2, US 7556594B2, US-B2-7556594, US7556594 B2, US7556594B2|
|Inventors||Vincent J. Houston|
|Original Assignee||Houston Vincent J|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (26), Referenced by (1), Classifications (15), Legal Events (2)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is a continuation in part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/028,966, filed on Jan. 4, 2005 now abandoned and entitled FITNESS DEVICE.
The present invention relates to a fitness device. More particularly, the present invention pertains to a fitness device for stretching the lower back and legs of a user.
At least 100 million workdays are lost each year to lower back injuries at great cost to the economy. It has been estimated that workers compensation claims for back problems total billions of dollars each year. Exercise professionals know back pain and injury can largely be prevented through appropriate strengthening and stretching exercises.
Most athletes (both professional and recreational) know that in order to perform at their best level physically, it is necessary to warm up the body's muscles prior to performing an exercise. Also, to maintain muscle tone and flexibility, it is important to stretch one's muscles by exerting an elongating pulling force acting on the particular muscles being stretched. Typically, muscle stretching is performed by assuming a position in which a particular muscle group is elongated. This position is held for a period of time and then additional force is applied to further elongate the isolated muscle group.
When performing muscle stretching exercises, an athlete will typically concentrate stretching exercises that are designed to apply the elongating pulling force on the relatively larger muscle groups of the body, such as the muscle groups located in the legs and back. A common stretching procedure used to stretch the hamstring and lower back muscles is to stand straight up and then bend at the waist, while keeping the legs straight. The action of bending the torso at the waist exerts the desired pulling force on the muscles of the legs and back, and in particular, on the hamstring muscles. Since the hamstring muscles are one of the largest muscle groups of the body, used when performing many types of exercises and are commonly injured, it is very important to insure that the hamstring muscles of the legs receive an adequate stretching prior to, and after, exercising.
However, the traditional methods used for stretching the leg muscles and back muscles are inefficient, and place the athlete at a high risk of lower back injury. For example, when performing the above described stretching exercise where the torso is bent at the waist, the entire weight of the upper body is supported by the muscles of the lower back. This places a large strain on a group of muscles that tend to be weak and very tight in most individuals. Very often the back muscles are overloaded when a stretching exercise is performed, causing muscle fibers to tear, and resulting in debilitating pain and injury.
In order to provide a better stretch of the leg muscles and back muscles, another stretching method requires the athlete to sit with the back of the thighs flat on the ground with the toes of the feet pointing up. The athlete then reaches slowly forward with his hands towards his feet to bend the torso at the waist and perform the stretching exercise. A limber athlete will, in this position, be able to grab his feet with his hands and pull his chest towards his feet. In order to get a more consistent and more effective stretch, an assistant can apply an urging force to the back and shoulders of the athlete to urge the chest towards the feet. It is important for the assistant to exert enough of a force at an appropriate rate in order to obtain a good stretch of muscles, without causing pain or damage to the athlete. Typically, the athlete will communicate to the assistant how much pressure to apply and when to stop. In another method, which isolates the hamstring muscles from the lower back muscle (which is essential in some rehabilitation regimes), the individual lies on his back and places one leg straight up in the air. Typically a towel or band is placed around the foot so as to apply a force pulling the leg toward the chest.
With both of the described methods, not only is a force applied by the assistant, but also a counter force is applied by the athlete. This counter force is timed and released. As the counter force is released, the assistant is able to move further into the stretch. This stretching technique is referred to as PNF (proprio-neuro-facilitation) and is extensively used by rehabilitation professionals with excellent results. An assistant is very helpful when performing either of these stretching methods.
However, the traditional methods for stretching the legs and the back of an athlete without a trainer are inadequate. It is difficult for an athlete to exert enough of an urging force without resorting to dangerous bouncing motion. Also, even if an athlete is fortunate enough to have an assistant on hand to exert a consistent and adequate urging force, it is still difficult to obtain a good stretch, since the athlete must communicate with the assistant precisely when enough force is being applied, and how long to apply the force. If not enough force is applied, then the muscles do not receive an adequate stretch. If too much force is applied, then the athlete runs the risk of serious muscle and connecting tissue damage. Therefore, there is a need for a fitness device that an athlete can use alone for exerting and maintaining an appropriate force for both stretches described above. Since prevention and treatment for lower back and hamstring injuries involves obtaining increased flexibility or elongation of the muscles in this area, a device such as the present invention would have wide spread use among rehabilitation professionals as well as any commercial fitness facility.
The present invention is intended to provide a remedy. It is an object of the present invention to overcome the drawbacks of the traditional muscle stretching methods, and provide a simple fitness device that can be used by all individuals embarking on a fitness program. It is another object of the present invention to provide such a fitness device using a simple construction and common materials to keep manufacturing costs low. It is another object of the present invention to provide such a fitness device capable of indicating to the user the progress and improvement in the flexibility of the lower back and hamstring muscles of the user due to the use of the inventive fitness device.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,567,202 of Hager discloses a fitness device for use by a user having a back, legs, a torso, a waist, and a chest. A back contacting member is provided for contacting the back of the user. A leg contacting member is provided for contacting the legs of the user. An end of the back contacting member and an end of the leg contacting member are pivotally connected so that the back contacting member is pivotable relative to the leg contacting member. Thus, in an initial position, the back contacting member and the leg contacting member define a first angle. The user disposes himself so as to have his back contacting the back contacting member and his legs contacting the leg contacting member so that the torso and the legs of the user define substantially the first angle. A lever, operable by the user, is used to urge the back contacting member to pivot relative to the leg contacting member, and define a second angle. Thus, the back contacting member applies pressure to the back of the user to urge the chest toward the legs, so that the torso of the user bends at the waist, and the chest is urged toward the legs. The user takes hold of the lever, and pushes the lever forward with an appropriate force so that the legs and back of the user are properly stretched.
Also, in accordance with the Hager '202 patent, the position of the back contacting member relative to the position of the second contacting member could be locked, so that force is maintained against the back of the user to urge the chest toward the feet to obtain a good stretch to the leg muscles and back muscles, and in particular, of the hamstrings. This lock also allows the user to apply counter force in the back and leg contacting member. As counter force is increased, the back contacting member could be advanced against the counter force to maintain the increased muscle length obtained.
It is, however, somewhat inconvenient to operate the apparatus described in the Hager '202 patent. In particular, it is cumbersome and difficult for a user seated on the apparatus to effectively move the operating lever assembly that applies pressure to the back contacting member. There is, accordingly, a need for a more convenient way to cause the back contacting member to apply pressure to the user's back.
In the present invention, a pivotally mounted contacting member is connected to a shaft that is located underneath the leg contacting member that supports the user's legs. Extending the shaft in one direction causes the back contacting member to pitch towards the user, applying pressure to the user's back. Retracting the shaft in the opposite direction causes the back contacting member to pitch away from the user, removing pressure from the user's back. The shaft can be extended and retracted manually by means of a hand crank or a wheel or it can be extended and retracted under electrical power by connecting the shaft to an electric motor. Alternatively, the shaft can be threaded and can rotate, with a threaded nut fixed to the back contacting member causing the back contacting member to pitch accordingly. Another alternative is to connect the pivotally mounted contacting member to one ore more shafts that are located above the leg contacting member that supports the user's legs.
Embodiments of the invention are described in detail below with reference to drawings which illustrates specific embodiments of the invention and in which:
As shown in
The back contacting member 11 and/or the leg contacting bed member 12 may be constructed of solid sheets of a suitable material, such as plastic, wood, or metal. However, in accordance with the embodiment shown in
In use, two 32 or one motor 33 (which is centrally positioned) are connected to the front frame support 26, each by a connecting shaft 24. Laterally movable shaft 34 runs from each motor to the back contacting member 11 at a point below the pivot shaft 30 of the back contacting member 11.
As the motors 32 operate each laterally movable shaft 34 either advances or retracts depending on the direction of motor rotation. As it advances, shaft 34 causes the upper portion of back contacting member 11 to pivot forward in the direction of arrow 35 relative to the second contacting member 12 so that the torso of the seated user bends at the waist and the user's chest is urged towards the user's legs. The user thereby stretches the muscles of the back and legs. As each retracts, laterally movable shaft 34 causes the back contacting member 11 to pivot back relative to the second contacting member 12, allowing a seated user to move the user's chest away from his or her legs.
The motors 32 and laterally movable shafts 34 work together with one another or motor-and-shaft assembly may be used.
A lever arm 140 is attached to the bottom of back frame 14 and acts as a lever to multiply the force applied to the lower part of back contacting member 111.
Connecting shaft 124 supports motor 132 that is connected to the lever arm 140 by laterally movable shaft 134. As the motor 132 turns, movable shaft 134 either advances or retracts, depending on the direction of motor rotation. As it advances, laterally movable shaft 134 causes the lever arm 140 to move up towards the bottom of the leg contacting member 112. This causes the back contacting member 111 to pivot back relative to the second contacting member 112, allowing a seated user to move the user's chest away from his or her legs.
As it retracts, movable shaft 134 causes the lever arm 140 to move down towards the cross braces 136 and 138. This causes the back contacting member 111 to pivot forward relative to the leg contacting member 112 so that the torso of a seated user bends at the waist, and a user's chest is urged towards the user's legs.
Alternatively, as shown in the dashed lines on
As pivotable nut 246 moves closer to motor 232, the upper portion of back contacting member 211 pivots away from second contacting member 212, allowing a seated user to move the user's chest away from his or her legs. As pivotable threaded nut 246 moves away from motor 232, the upper portion of back contacting member 211 pivots toward second contacting member 212 so that the torso of the seated user bends at the waist, and the user's chest is urged towards the user's legs.
Here, as in other embodiments, operation of motor 532 in one direction causes laterally movable shaft 534 to move back frame 514 in one direction or the other. Reversing motor 532 reverses the direction of movement of back frame 514. Depending on the direction of movement of back frame 514, the user's torso will either be pushed towards or moved away from the user's legs.
Here, back frame 614 is attached on either side to support rails 620, 621 at pivot point 630. A connecting shaft 624, 625 attaches to support rails 620 and supports one motor 632, 633 on either side of the table or base. Each motor 632, 633 is connected to back frame 614 by a laterally-movable shaft 634, 635. Looking only at the left-hand side of the invention, the connecting shaft 624 may also connect to support rail 620 at point 622 which may comprise a wing nut or similar device riding inside of channel 623 so as to provide a wide range of adjustability. Alternatively, a series of fixed mounting holes could be used. Moving the point at which the connecting shaft 624 is fastened to the frame 620 will vary the initial angle at which back frame 614 begins to operate. The right-hand side connecting shaft is mounted in the same fashion as described above. As motor 632 turns, the laterally-movable shaft 634 either advances or retracts, depending on the direction of motor rotation. As it advances, laterally movable shaft 634 causes back frame 614 to move away from the user. As it retracts, laterally-movable shaft 634 causes back frame 614 to move towards the user. Here, too, back panel 618 may be pivotably mounted to back frame 614 in a fashion similar to that shown in
A back frame 814 is attached at a pivot point 830, which lies on axis A (shown in
Back frame 814 has an arcuate configuration. This advantageous design facilitates movement of back frame 814 about the table relative to pivot point 830, which can accommodate several table end variations. It is contemplated that back frame 814 may have various radii of curvature to form the arcuate design. It is envisioned that pivot point 830, which lies on Axis A, is adjacent and/or closely aligned to the pivot point of user's hip to avoid undesirable longitudinal movement of a portion of fitness device 810 that engages a user such as a pad discussed below, during use. It is contemplated that pivot point 830 may include a rotatable bearing structure to facilitate movement of back frame 814 relative to mounting bracket 852. Such bearing structure may be mounted with back frame 814 or mounting bracket 852.
Mounting bracket 852 is configured for mounting with a surface of the table or base. It is envisioned that mounting bracket 852 may be attached to a planar surface, although mounting bracket 852 may be configured for attachment with surfaces having other configurations, such as arcuate, cornered, angled, etc. Mounting bracket 852 is attached to the underside of a tabletop by various methods such as adhesive, mechanical, etc.
A motor 832 and motor mounting block 850 are attached to mounting bracket 852. It is contemplated that motor 832 is positioned with the underside of the tabletop to deliver the greatest amount of force to back frame 814. Similar to the embodiments discussed above, operation of motor 832 in one direction causes a laterally movable shaft 834 to move back frame 814 in one direction or the other. Reversing motor 832 reverses the direction of movement of back frame 814. Depending on the direction of movement of back frame 814, the user's torso will either be pushed towards or move away from the user's legs.
Moveable shaft 834 extends from motor 832 to a distal end 835 and moves in the directions indicated by arrows 836. This results in movement of pad 818 and back frame 814 in the directions of arrows 837. Distal end 835 engages back frame 814 to cause movement thereof. It is contemplated that distal end 835 may be fixedly mounted with back frame 814 to facilitate movement. It is further contemplated that distal end 835 may be releasably engageable with back frame 814.
Back frame 814 includes a panel bracket 816 for mounting a user contact pad 818 thereto. Panel bracket 816 is fixedly mounted with back frame 814. It is envisioned that panel bracket 816 may be pivotably mounted to back frame 814 to facilitate pivotal movement of contact pad 818 with a user during use. It is envisioned that contact pad 818 may be variously sized to support various body parts and sizes.
Fitness device 810 may be employed for various stretching treatment such as proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching, hamstring/hip flexor stretch, quadriceps stretch, iliopsoas stretch, adductor stretch, groin stretch, etc. The advantageous configuration of fitness device 810 provides several advantages including enhanced muscular strength of a user, resilience and increasing a user's joint range of motion.
The present invention is particularly suitable for application to modern industrial processes. In particular, the present invention is constructed of common materials, such as aluminum tubing, and can be easily manufactured using conventional techniques, such as metal bending. The inventive fitness device may be constructed of a less durable, more lightweight materials, such as utilizing a lighter thinner gage of aluminum tubing for the frame, and a thinner plywood substrate for the contacting surfaces. This construction may be suitable for home use. On the other hand, a more robust construction, suitable for commercial fitness club use may utilize, for example heavier gage steel or aluminum tubing for the frame, and a thicker plywood substrate for the contacting surfaces. Similarly, the other components of the inventive fitness device may be selectively chosen depending on the intended use, and the durability, compactness and weight considerations thereof.
While an illustrative embodiment of the invention has been described above, it is, of course, understood that various modifications will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. Such modifications are within the spirit and scope of the invention, which is limited and defined only by the appended claims.
|Cited Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US1537464 *||Mar 30, 1923||May 12, 1925||Hummel Jr Oliver H||Ointment chirapractor|
|US3766912 *||Oct 26, 1971||Oct 23, 1973||Daniels E||Orthopedic traction table|
|US4696512 *||Mar 6, 1986||Sep 29, 1987||Berkline Corporation||Motorized recliner chair with release mechanism|
|US4782715 *||Oct 13, 1987||Nov 8, 1988||Rockwell-Cim||System for locking a linear device for rapidly adjusting and immobilizing a movable part relative to a fixed part|
|US4802462 *||Dec 21, 1987||Feb 7, 1989||Biodex Corporation||Muscle exercise and rehabilitation apparatus for the upper lumbar region|
|US4815732||Nov 2, 1987||Mar 28, 1989||Pascal Mahvi||Exercising chair|
|US4819936 *||Feb 5, 1988||Apr 11, 1989||Donald Muller||Back and leg stretcher|
|US4844054 *||Mar 2, 1988||Jul 4, 1989||"Handi-Move"||Apparatus designed for exercising the rear leg muscles as well as the lower dorsal muscles of a patient|
|US4844453||Mar 21, 1988||Jul 4, 1989||Century Martial Art Supply, Inc.||Stretching machine|
|US4876929||Sep 15, 1988||Oct 31, 1989||Burton Kozak||Portable screw driver having flexible extension shaft|
|US4979732 *||Jul 25, 1989||Dec 25, 1990||Lifemates, Inc.||Exercise and rehabilitative apparatus and method of exercising|
|US5256126 *||Feb 5, 1992||Oct 26, 1993||Grote Sport Inc.||Abdominal and back exercising device|
|US5437609 *||Sep 17, 1993||Aug 1, 1995||Leonard; David K.||Chiropractic articulating traction chair|
|US5468216 *||Oct 12, 1994||Nov 21, 1995||Physicians Consulting Incorporated||Kinetic rehabilitation device employing controlled passive motion|
|US5567202 *||Jan 9, 1995||Oct 22, 1996||Hager; Kathleen||Fitness device|
|US5728048 *||Feb 26, 1996||Mar 17, 1998||Hirschfeld; Kurt Allen||Back conditioning apparatus|
|US5913759 *||Jun 3, 1997||Jun 22, 1999||Bostroem; Bo Yngve||Stretching apparatus|
|US5971901 *||Dec 4, 1996||Oct 26, 1999||Shaw; George B.||Exercise machine|
|US6406412 *||Jun 4, 2001||Jun 18, 2002||Ming-Hui Chen||Abdomen exercise device|
|US6776743 *||Dec 29, 2001||Aug 17, 2004||Young Baeg Hur||Waist strengthening and rehabilitating apparatus and load controller therefor|
|US6811522 *||Jan 27, 2000||Nov 2, 2004||Mcquinn Andrew James||Total trunk traction|
|US7172539 *||Jan 2, 2004||Feb 6, 2007||Alice Bythewood||Abdominal exercising support apparatus|
|US20020149247 *||May 24, 2002||Oct 17, 2002||Niels Diffrient||Ergonomic chair|
|US20030107250 *||Feb 19, 2001||Jun 12, 2003||Staarink Henricus Antonius Maria||Device for supporting a seated person and method for adjusting, designing and/or manufacturing such a device|
|US20060149317 *||Jan 4, 2005||Jul 6, 2006||Freeman Kathleen M||Fitness device|
|US20060161203 *||Jan 18, 2005||Jul 20, 2006||Total Motion Development, Inc.||Passive motion body articulating apparatus and method|
|Citing Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US9566470||Mar 16, 2016||Feb 14, 2017||Mary Ann Malizia||Leg stretcher|
|U.S. Classification||482/142, 482/907, 606/242, 601/25, 606/245, 482/140, 601/24, 601/26|
|International Classification||A63B26/00, A61F5/00|
|Cooperative Classification||A61H1/0292, A61H2201/1261, A63B2023/006, Y10S482/907|
|Dec 31, 2012||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Jan 8, 2017||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8